[Address: ADDU All-Faculty General Assembly, Finster Auditorium, June 1, 2015]
As I begin the fifth year of my Presidency at Ateneo de Davao University, it is my pleasure to welcome you to School Year 2015-16. This will be an exciting year. In basic education, it is the final year before the implementation of Senior High School. In higher education, it is the final year of the Aquino-Licuanan leadership in higher education; this year we can participate anew in working for a national policy environment for higher education in the country to replace the vacuity of helpful policy that has plagued this administration. As a university, however, the excitement will come from continuing to implement our vision and mission guided by a new university strategic plan that is yet a work in progress.
Shared Passion, Shared Mission
You will recall that even before I was installed as President four years ago, I convened some 60 members of the university community for a five-day conversation at Eden Nature Resort. My instruction was to invite those who were passionate about something to this meeting. They came. They were teachers, students, researchers, administrators, union members. We asked: Are you able to express your passion at the Ateneo de Davao? If so, how do you do it? If not, why not? The questions generated profound sharing, some very pained, referring to “the dark ages” of Ateneo de Davao history. The sharing confronted us with some difficult truths about university life. Sometimes administration thinks it is defending the interests of the university, but for failure to listen to people and be sensitive to their needs, ends up hurting people deeply, destroying relationships in the community, and imperiling the university. Sometimes individuals think they are advancing their rights, but for failure to consider the common good, resort to actions that harm the university’s ability to carry out the mission it must. The conversations at Eden were cathartic. They were graced. Through shared passion, we re-discovered shared mission. They allowed us to come together again as a university in shared purpose and welcome joy.
Looking back, I think that initial Eden experience cannot be underestimated. There was an encounter there first and foremost with our actual shared Spirit in wanting to be a university where truth, its discovery and relevant transmission, is a genuine concern. Truth not in the abstract, but in the context of Mindanao. For Mindanao, people expressed passionate love and personal concern. There were references to the poor, the indigenous communities, the lack of peace, the need to protect the environment, to work on promoting renewable energy. During the process I remember asking whether people shared my view that a university cannot be confined to instruction, but must find its identity also in robust research and relevant outreach as well. I found the enthusiastic assent to this heartwarming. The university was not merely conceptual, it was actual. It was not merely institutional, it was human. For it, there was much real energy.
Getting in touch with that energy was crucial. It was that energy which pulled stale discussions on our Vision and Mission that had never reached the Board of Trustees out of the doldrums and virtually re-wrote it.
The vision statement expressed perennial truths about our identity. We are first and foremost a university in the service of truth; essential to this service is instruction, formation, research and outreach. As a university however we are Catholic, Jesuit and Filipino.
The mission statement expressed how this university identity is actually impacting on believers and non-believers in a confusing world, the poor, the excluded, the indigenous peoples, the Filipino Muslim communities, the endangered environment, the educational landscape in Mindanao.
The reformulated vision-mission statement was discussed and ratified by the university community. That was occasion for a group to gather once again at Eden to do strategic planning. Their task: formulate the strategic plan to implement the vision and mission. From those plans, 28 articulated key result areas, with their own sets of goals and indicators, emerged. Always with the plan and the vision and mission in mind, major changes were introduced in the university. There was the establishment of the office of the academic vice president, the Basic Education Council, the new Academic Council, the University Research Council, the University Community Engagement and Advocacy Council. There were PAASCU surveys which we successfully passed on all our levels, but these led us to work harder for improved instruction especially in the light of the K-12 reform, greater alignment between academic qualification and academic engagement or instruction, and more rational administrative systems. There was the establishment of new institutes such as the ADDU Al Qalam for Muslim Identities and Dialogue in Southeast Asia, the Ateneo Institute for Anthropology, the Tropical Institute for Climate Studies (TorpICS), the Center for Renewable Energies and Appropriate Technologies (CREATE), the Ecoteneo. Self-defining initiatives were taken in our efforts to promote lived Ignatian spirituality, in respectable numbers of undertaken and completed research projects, in our sustained response to help the victims of Typhoon Pablo, to oppose large scale mining in Tampacan, to preserve the natural waterways of Mindanao, to promote the use of solar energy, to support the K-12 reform basic education, and to insist on academic freedom complemented by a rational quality assurance program for higher in the Philippines. Meanwhile we pushed hard for a new type of leader in the concept and advocacy of the ADDU sui generis leader. Sui generis has meanwhile become part of the mantra for leadership development at ADDU.
With the plethora of activity within the ADDU and beyond the ADDU, beyond the evaluation of our activities through an external quality assurance body like PAASCU, the desirability, if not necessity, of a culture of internal evaluation and planning became apparent. For this purpose I engaged and appointed Ms. Lia Esquillo as my Assistant for Planning and Quality Assurance last November, 2014. Already known to many of you, she hit the ground running by setting this culture into motion: internal scanning, external scanning, strategic planning, the dissemination of this strategic planning to the community and its appropriation ultimately through the Board of Trustees, and the implementation and evaluation of the plan.
You have been part of the discussions and evaluations on the unit level, which constituted the internal scan. Here, a tremendous amount of activity in pursuit of the mission vision was captured, but with them also reflections on how we might improve in this delivery.
Last April 23-24, we gathered here in this hall with some eminent personalities and experts for the external scan. We were alerted by Atty. Chris Monsod, Delegate to the 1987 Constitutional Assembly, to the challenges of the forthcoming elections, the need for effective voter preparation, and the yet persistent need for social justice in our country; we gained further insight through Dr. Toby Monsod of U.P. into the sorry state of human underdevelopment in Mindanao based on human development indices; from Atty. Bong Parcasio we heard of threats to peace in Mindanao because of the alleged and apparent exclusion or self-exclusion of the MNLF and the current peace process. We heard of opportunities for public and private collaboration in Philippine education through the new PEAC-FAPE initiatives through its new executive director, Dr. Doris Ferrer. We heard challenges to improved quality assurance in higher education within a globalized quality assurance world through Ms. Chita Pijano, the executive director of PAASCU. As part of the external scan I also presented the Roadmap of the Philippine Jesuits towards the periphery and the poor that would shift the center of gravity of the apostolates of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines from Luzon to Mindanao.
Meanwhile, viewing the actual external environment today, the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law is in now in the hands of a Congress that we pray will handle this crucial issue with wisdom, the question of Federalism has been raised vigorously by our Mayor Duterte, the further implementation of the K-12 law is being challenged in the Supreme Court, the CHED continues to lead higher education vacuously (without clear direction and insight) yet calls upon Congress to give it more power, the South China Sea has become a tinderbox for serious conflict and violence due to various countries’ competing claims to the area and the aggressive reclamation activities of China there, and the Congress seems to be railroading the process to change the Constitution to allow more foreign ownership in the Philippines. But that is opening a Pandora’s box, is it not? The Makati Business Club may want more business with foreigners, and more profit for themselves, but the impact of these constitutional changes on small Filipino business and on the poor is roundly unappreciated. So are the changes being railroaded truly desirable? Yet, once the Constitution is opened to change, all in it may be changed, including its social justice provisions, its provisions for academic freedom, the two autonomous regions, and freedom of religion.
For a full four days last week, from May 26-29, delegates representing the ADDU colleges, the Law School, the High School, the Grade School, the Board of Trustees, the administration, the faculty, and the non-teaching staff, the unions, the Samahan, worked in Eden again under the direction of Lia Esquillo to evolve a renewed ADDU strategic plan with the data from the internal and external scans.
Appreciating the external environment, they reaffirmed the Mission and Vision as it stands.
Appreciating the results of the internal scan, they acknowledged the great amount of work that had been done in the implementation of the vision mission and the earlier strategic plan, but resolved that there was room for improvement. First, they accepted that the redundancies in the earlier 28 key result areas allowed them to be reduced to five KRAs relative to the Mission Statement, and eight KRAs relative to the Vision Statement.
From Vision KRAs to Guiding Principles
The five KRA relative to the Vision Statement were as follows. The Strategic Planning spent much quality time coming to agreement on what they meant.
KRA 1. Integral Formation. This means “to foster the full development of the human person through actualization of the person’s potentials and full freedom, capacitating him/her through instruction and formation, anchored on Ignatian spirituality and the mission of the Society of Jesus, to be sensitive, discerning and responsive to the will of God and the needs of others (person, environment society and the Church) and by so doing, to ultimately glorify God.”
KRA 2. Excellent Instruction. This means “to provide quality education delivered by competent faculty through a curriculum that provides integrated, humane and profession education formation that is transformative, globally competitive, and socially responsive and equips the learning with the unquenchable passion for lifelong learning towards action for the greater glory of God.”
KRA 3. Robust Research and Publication. This means, ADDU conducts disciplinal, interdisciplinary, and multi-disciplinal research for truth that promotes the vision and mission of the University especially in favor of social justice in Mindanao. It takes cognizance of the special research capacities of the University and commits itself increasingly to excellent research, priding itself in its use and transmission of local knowledge.
KRA 4. Vibrant Engagement. This means: “To promote and advocate social justice and the common good for the empowerment of the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized and the excluded through collaborative, sustainable and purposive interventions with utmost respect for human dignity that will lead to reconciliation with the Creator, creation and human society by and through each and every member of the Ateneo de Davao community as graced by God and as grateful stewards.
KRA 5. Transformative Administration and Services. This means that “Enabling and transformative leadership, structures, systems, procedures and activities value dialogue, shared responsibility and transparency. Thus, they promote mechanisms for feedback, communication, institutional memory, identification, development and allocation of human and non-human resources, and detailed but coordinated planning among offices with overlapping concerns.
It was realised however that integral formation, excellent instruction, robust research, vibrant engagement, and transformative administration and services, understood in this manner that elucidates the identity of the ADDU, are better referred to not as KRAs but as transcendent Guiding Principles in the University’s implementation of its mission. They are not the results of activity distinct from the implementation of the mission, but the guiding principles which allow the mission to be realised. It is however only in the realisation of the mission KRAs, however, that the validity of the guiding principles is affirmed.
Key Result Areas and Goals
The Strategic Planning Group then focused on eight mission KRAs. But since the KRA on social justice had seven sub-parts, the sub-parts were practically seven KRAs. This means that the group worked on the processing for fifteen KRAs. For each KRA, the challenge was to articulate goals (What are we really trying to achieve?), performance indicators (What shows us that we’ve achieved it?) and strategies (What are the ways by which we will achieve what we intend to achieve?).
While much was achieved, the task is still a work in progress – especially in the articulation of the detail-rich strategies. When the group is finished with the strategic plan, the strategic plan will be presented in full to the university community for discussion and comment, and to the Board of Trustees for approval, hopefully during its regular meeting in August.
I will only share with you the KRAs, the goals and just one or two of many indicators or strategies that I thought were remarkable.
KRA 1. Formation of ADDU Sui Generis Leaders for the Church and human society.
Definition: Develop leadership that promoters social justice and the ongoing commitment to the common good.
Goals: A network of graduates who serve as leaders for Mindanao who understand the complexity of social justice and are committed to the ongoing learning and discussion of such and are inspired by the Vision and Mission of the Ateneo de Davao University.
Functioning structures within the Ateneo de Davao that support the ADDU Sui Generis leaders in the ongoing learning concerning the common good through social justice.
Indicator: at least 5% of graduates from the University whose choice career is influenced by the Vision and Mission and the leadership experience in ADDU.
KRA 2. Articulate and enact a faith that does justice.
Definition: Making gospel values alive by walking the talk, living the faith not only for ourselves but also for others, particularly the poor and the marginalized, and commitment to commutative, distributive and especially social justice.
Increased number of ADDU stakeholders (students, graduates, alumni, administrators, faculty, staff) who articulate their faith through service to others (church, government, society).
Indicator: ALL programs must justify themselves in terms of promoting a faith that does justice.
KRA 3. Address question of belief and non-belief towards the truth. Research and grapple respectfully with questions on the act of believing and related matters o faith, religion, morals, ideal, ideologies, individual and cultural expressions of belief and non-belief towards attainment of the truth.
The University is contributing positively to belief in an increasingly secular world where belief is dying and needs renewal.
Indicator: Semi-annual dialogues/conversations/fora on belief/nonbelief among the ADDU community and its external community.
KRA 4. Promote communities of peace and cultural resilience.
Definition: Teach Mindanaoans, as well as other Filipinos, the history of their diverse social, cultural and political conditions and create opportunities for solidarity between communities through genuine dialogue.
Recognize/support and draw out wellsprings of life-sustaining values inherent in the cultures of Mindanaoans (ethno-linguistic groups) as they pursue their cultural self-determination, and are creative in enhancing and sustaining their cultures, but also capacitate and empower them to adapt to the modern world amidst the threats and influence of globalization and environmental, socio-political change.
Goal: Filipino Muslim communities, T’Boli, B’laans, Mandayas, Manobo and other ADDU partner communities are strengthened in their ethnolingistic identities and ability to engage other cultures and openness to the modern world.
Filipino communities in Mindanao capacitated in peace building skills inspired by the principle of reconciled diversity.
Indicator: 3 Textbooks on Mindanao history.
Existence of a sustainable, regional, community-based peace network that advances the agenda of Mindanao.
KRA 5.1 Promote the common good through social justice.
Definition 5.1. Preserve and protect the environment especially as it is threated by an economy that excludes.
Goals. 1. Jesuit institutions and communities are ecologically sustainable and exercise strong environmental ethics in their systems and operations, personnel formation/training.
2. All Jesuits and partners address the effects of the environmental crisis on the poor, marginalized and indigenous communities particularly in Davao and Mindanao.
3. Students engaged in transformative education and are immersed in real-world environmental issues, learn to develop solutions and leave the university committed to creating a new world based on just relations with creation.
4. Centers of theological reflection, spirituality, social and pastoral works are sources that motivate commitment and foter celebration of creation.
5. Offices in charge of communication and media have developed ways of increasing the awareness and motivation for action among Jesuits and all involved in various apostolic ministries.
Indicators. 1. Green purchasing and administrative operations.
2. Critical Davao green agenda issues pushed.
3. Curricula include Education for sustainable Development (ESD)
4. Formation program rooted in reconciliation for Creation (e.g. eco-spiritual retreats)
5. Catechetical instruction in partner pastoral centers introducing/integrating environmental awareness
KRA 5.2 Promote the common good through social justice.
Definition 5.2. Protect the human community from climate change especially as it is most probably caused by human beings.
Goal. Coordination with mandated agencies in delivering capacity-building services in climte change mitigation and adaptation and Disaster Risk Reducation Management at the local and national levels.
Indicator: Full implementation of the National Disaster and Risk Reducation Law (RA 10121) through the university response to complement government effort.
KRA 5.3 Promote the common good through social justice.
Definition 5.3. Promote the creation and equitable distribution of wealth.
Goals: 1. Strengthening of structures that pursue creation and equitable distribution of wealth.
2. Increased wealth creation through entrepreneurial and agri-business endeavors.
3. Provision of technical assistance to the capability building of key partners (industry, SMEs, NGOs. Coops, etc)
4. Excellence in innovation in business.
5. Promotion of manufacturing in Mindanao (e.g. shoe industry).
6. Mainstreaming of Shari’ah finance to connect excluded Muslim communities to national economy.
7. Inclusion of other disconnected communities as National Economy. 8. ADDU as Center of Shari’ah Economy
8. Reduction of Poverty in Mindanao: Business students imbued with the mission to create wealth for Mindanao
Indicator: increased number of graduates involved in social entrepreneurship and other relate economic activities.
Approval of agri-business programs
At least on product a year recognized in business pitching and related competitions.
KRA 5.4. Promote the common good through social justice.
Definition 5.4. Protect vulnerable communities using a rights-based and gender-responsive framework.
Goals. 1. Non-discrimination in the access to education, health, water , food, housing, employment, and other social bases of self-respect.
2. Men and women so empowered that they are able to make meaningful and informed choices.
3. Increased participation in the deliberation, discussion and resolution on/of matters affecting the vulnerable communities.
Indicators: Forged partnership with service providers (like LGUs, national government, public agencies, and international development agencies engaged with the concerned vulnerable groups.
KRA 5.5 Promote the common good through social justice.
Definition 5.5 Promote good governance
Goal. 1. Competent and committed duty bearer who are transparent, accountable, effective and efficient in delivery of services.
2. Informed and engaged rights-bearers who are imbued with civic virtues and knowledge of citizenship rights and responsibilities.
Indicator. 1. Graduates holding key positions in government.
2. Conducted relevant capacity building activities in partnering with the service providers for vulnerable communities.
KRA 5.6 Promote the common good through social justice.
Definition 5.6. Cultivate structures within the University that promote the common good on a long-term basis.
Goal. Appropriate functioning structure are in place responsive and attuned to the demands of the common good and needs of the communities.
Indicator: Establishment of two institutes: Institute for Urban Planning and Institute of Politics and Good Governance
KRA 5.7 Promote the common good through social justice.
Definition 5.7. Promote sustainable development through sustainable development and renewable energy.
Goal. 1. Awareness of the benefits of renewable energy.
2. Renewable energy and appropriate technologies designed, developed and implemented in Mindanao.
3. Promulgation of policies on the effective and efficient use of renewable energy and technology.
4. Active participation in the various urban development planning activities of the local government of Davao City.
Indicator: At least 10 percent of the households in Davao City are aware of renewal of energy and appropriate technologies.
Initiation and involvement in crafting at least one ordinance in Davao City promoting renewal energy and appropriate technologies.
KRA 6. Serve the local and university Roman Catholic Church
Definition: Respond to the need of the local church by forming leaders with habits of theological reflection who are able to promote a dialogue between the Church and the modern world.
Services are rooted in the reality of Mindanao which is multi-cultural, multi-faith, and capable of explaining the faith in a way that is understandable to the local community, but a special emphasis on programs which guide the youth and strengthen the family.
Goals. 1. Committed Church leaders who are guided by theological reflection, inspired by Ignatian spirituality, actively involved in the local Church and advocating dialogue between the Church and the modern world.
2. A university that is responsive to the realities of Mindanao’s multi-cultural and multi-religious contexts that emphasizes on family and youth formation.
3. Graduates that become church leaders.
KRA 7. Promote education reform, especially for Southern Philippines
Definition: Clarify the collaboration between private and public eduction
Promote academic freedom
Arrive at a consensus on quality
Urgently promote Basic Education in the Bangsamoro and IP areas
Raise the standards of higher education in the island
Goals. Strong collaboration between DepEd /CHEd and ADDU in the promotion of educational reform in Southern Philippines.
Leading force in the promotion of Basic Education in the Bangsamoro and IP communities
ADDU is a major source of higher education [graduate]] degrees in Mindanao and Visayas.
Indicator: Number of programs and activities collaboratively implemented by ADDY and DepEd/ CHED
Number of Basic Education schools established for the Bangsamoro and IP communities.
Graduate school population increased by 100% over the next five years.
KRA 8. Engage in inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue.
Definition. Recognize, understand and respect the diversity of religions and cultures and engage in a dialogue of life, explore the experience of shared prayer, collaborate with people of others faiths towards social justice, and engage in a dialogue of theology towards the celebration of mutual understanding and cultural solidarity.
Goals: ADDU that engages Mindanao communities to respect, promote and understand diversity as it champions mutual understanding and cultural solidarity for peace in Mindanao and for the common good.
An institutional culture of conversations and dialogues in exploring different issues on social justice and the common good is established.
Indicators: ADDU collaborating with at least 6 Catholic schools in Mindanao in promoting inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue (1 per region).
At least 50% of the student population and ALL of the faculty and staff are able to participation at least one “conversations” event, that is unit-specific, age-appropriate and development sensitive on a select social-justice issue.
KRA 8. Develop the University as a Filipino-Global and Quality Educational Institution.
Attaining globally competitive standards in the formative, instruction, research and engagement, while remaining grounded in our Filipino identities and responsive to Mindanao, National and global challenges.
Goals: A University that is relevant in the ASEAN integration by fostering people to people relations [at least] in the BIMP (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines) sub-region.
A global and borderless university with graduates having leadership attributes for the development of Mindanao.
Glocally responsive and globally competitive curricula with distinct integration of the V-M of the University.
Globally-competitive qualifications of faculty.
Indicators. ADDU is efficiently operating through the complementation between and among formation, instruction , research and engagement [units] in pursuit of its ViM across all units and sectors of the university supported by enabling systems, structures and processes.
Pool of faculty (Basic to Higher Education) who are distinguished leaders in their own fields in areas of instruction, formation, research and publication, and engagement.
Maximizes automation facilities to facilitate implementation of QA services.
A school of choice for student athletes who will champion academic and athletic excellence towards youth empowerment and peace and community building.
From here, where?
I don’t think I have presented to you half of the material that was actually covered during the strategic planning activity last week. To the articulated KRAs, goals and Indicators the strategic planning group worked on proposed strategies to attain the goals from the viewpoint of administration, formation, instruction, research and extension. The group will still meet to complete and refine these strategies.
But I hope I have meanwhile given you enough to convince you that there is still deep appreciation for the Vision and Mission statement of the university as responsive to our stakeholders both within the university and beyond it, that there is grateful recognition for the accomplishments that have been achieved since the first strategic planning session we held in Eden, but that there is also a keen sense that we can yet do better. When the strategic planning group publishes its product, I hope that all of you will contribute both critically and generously to its refinement before it is sent to the Board of Trustees for its approval in August. Then we will implement it on the unit and sub-unit levels.
Consolation and Strength in the Spirit
During the wrap-up session on the morning after a grueling day of discussion and consensus building on the KRAs, goals and indicators of the emerging strategic plan, people were asked to describe feelings of the previous day. One said, “tiring;” another said, “amazing.” I shared, “consoling.” Mine was a sense of joy and pride that this ADDU, that had once been the source of deep worry among Jesuit apostolic administrators due to administration’s conflict with its unions, was now exhibiting so much energy, commitment and passion for the implementation of the shared mission of the school. During the planning the Jesuit participation – Fr. Dan, Fr. Gaby, Fr. Kim, Fr. Denny, and myself – was strong. But our work was only contributory to a shared effort among men and women of the university, teachers, faculty, staff, union leaders, administrators, trustees and students, to contribute to consensus on aspects of the strategic plan. I felt overjoyed that those who were participating had appropriated for themselves the mission of the Society of Jesus through the university, were as committed as any Jesuit might be to sharing the faith in joy, promoting social justice with courage, being sensitive to a diversity of cultures in Mindanao, being open to inter-religious dialogue, and being committed to the preservation of the environment. I was consoled to hear our partners in mission share nuanced convictions about apostolic challenges concerning belief and non-belief today, the crucial importance of formation vis-à-vis instruction, and the necessity to pursue social justice on multiple levels. I was overjoyed that we had actually found consensus on fifteen complex and sensitive KRAs and that there was energy in strategizing for their implementation from the viewpoints of administration, formation, instruction, research and extension. I was even more deeply gratified that among the more energetic participants in the consensus building was Mussolini Lidasan whose devoutness as a Filipino Muslim allowed him to join Catholic and Protestant Christians, who themselves found no problem in agreeing with Muss that Shari’ah financing must be mainstreamed in our business instruction. Obviously what was at work in the process was not merely the organisational prowess and expertise of Lia Esquillo and her team of facilitators, but a Spirit binding us with one another in shared purpose.
Today, at the commencement of this new academic year, we acknowledge this Spirit among us, binding us in our diversity together and leading us to even greater fidelity to our Vision and Mission. Being the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, it invites us to gaze on our world, our Mindanao, anew, and ask ourselves whether we respond to this world as the Father does, with compassion and love. His Son was the full expression of His compassion and love – for the world, for Mindanao, for us. It is his Spirit that invites us to behold him on the Cross and ask: If this is what you have done for me in love, what is it that I have done for you? What am I doing for you. And what ought I to do for you? I felt great consolation because the strategic planners were ultimately answering these three questions in the name of the university community. They were not focused on how much compensation each can demand for what is done in the school; they were not worried about the time it would take beyond work hours to reach out to a student who is confused about the direction his life had taken. There was trust that just and sustainable working relations could be agreed upon within the community that would support the school’s mission. Yet, confronted by facts of the external scanning, where Christ continues to hang from his Cross in the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed and excluded, and gazes into our eyes, the Ateneo strategic planner looks into his eyes and says: “Lord, today, for this situation of the Bangsamoro harmed by centuries of rejection, or this situation of the B’laan disenfranchised from their land by miners foreign to their land, or for this situation of the T’Boli unwilling to lose their cultural heritage to the culture of McDonalds and Starbucks, or this situation of corruption and poor governance of higher education, ‘What ought we at ADDU do for you, Lord?’”
May it be our shared question, as we face the challenge of this year together in the Spirit of God! We ask it together in the Spirit of God. We answer it together in the Spirit of God. In his Spirit that enlightens us, we respond in truth. In his Spirit that missions us, we respond in courage. In his Spirit, we recognise his remarkable favour for us, for which we can only be awed and humbly grateful. As St. Paul says: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?” (Rom. 31-32). Putting our faith in God, bowing to “his high command” we have nothing to fear. Fortes in fide. We are strong in the faith.
So, bring it on! May this be an exciting year for us all!